With a less than desirable record to end Stage 2, and still no sign of real change in the team, the Los Angeles Valiant looked as though they would continue to struggle. However, Stage 3 saw them not only bounce back, but also solidify the title of one of the top teams in the league.
The Valiant’s first match of the stage was against the Shanghai Dragons, a team sitting towards the top of the rankings. On paper, the Dragons were certainly the stronger team, and that’s what showed in this series. The LA Valiant lost 3-1, only grabbing one map at the very end.
Their second match pitted them against the Chengdu Hunters, who they had just played as their final match of Stage 2. This series went very differently from the last, with the Los Angeles Valiant dominating the Hunters in 4-0 fashion. This victory was the first sign of a change in how the Valiant were playing the game.
Week 2 gave the LA Valiant only one match, a rematch against the Guangzhou Charge. In their last series, the Charge had successfully overwhelmed an uncoordinated Valiant, though that was not the story this time. Los Angeles left this match with a 3-1 in their favor, and looked solid all the way to the fourth map.
This week was the LA Valiant’s most explosive of the season so far. For their first match, they had to once again try to topple Shanghai. Thanks to a change in the starting lineup which brought in Johannes “Shax” Nielsen to replace Indy “SPACE” Halpern, the Valiant were able to run a strong Sombra GOATS composition and took down the Dragons 3-1.
The hype didn’t stop there though. Their second series pitted them against the Vancouver Titans, who were, at the time, undefeated in the regular season. The Los Angeles Valiant, still running Sombra GOATS, defeated the Titans with little trouble, leaving the scoreline at 3-1.
Week 4 was decent for the Valiant. For match one, they replayed their first opponents of the season in the Hangzhou Spark. In their new form, they looked as though they could beat just about anyone, but the Spark knew how to counter the Sombra GOATS composition while still playing the classic 3-3. Like in their previous encounter, the LA Valiant lost the series 3-2.
However, the week ended on a very strong note when Los Angeles took on the London Spitfire, who could not play well against the Valiant’s now staple setup. It was a complete stomp, and the Los Angeles Valiant walked away with the scoreline 4-0 in their favor.
For the first time in the 2019 season, the LA Valiant had made it to stage playoffs, and at fifth seed nonetheless. Their first opponents were yet again the Hanghzou Spark. Many thought that it would simply be a repeat of their last two matches against Hangzhou, and it was in many ways. Although, this time, the Valiant walked away winning the 3-2 series.
To make it to the finals, though, they had to get through the San Francisco Shock. The Valiant, despite how dominant they looked in Stage 3, were still not at the level of the Shock. The match was very one-sided, with San Francisco taking it 4-0.
In Stage 3, the Los Angeles Valiant finally found what worked for them, and did so outstandingly. They didn’t make it to the stage finals, let alone win the playoffs, but it’s hard to be disappointed in their run. Not only did they make it to the playoffs, but they exacted their revenge against several teams, including the, at the time, undefeated Vancouver Titans.
The Valiant may not have won it all and completed the comeback that everyone thought they could, but they certainly didn’t under-perform. They now look to truly be in fighting form for when Stage 4 comes around.
Featured image courtesy of the Overwatch League on Twitter